Approximately 2,500 employees gathered to kick off the 2017-2018 school year on Aug. 17 at Beltway Park Church.

The annual opening-of-school rally included entertainment from a faculty choir, student soloists and ensembles and an all-district elementary school choir under the direction of retired Director of Fine Arts and Cooper High director Barbara Perkins.

After audience members had a chance to get loud with the annual roll call of campuses and departments, two speakers addressed the crowd on the theme of “leadership.” Superintendent Dr. David Young’s annual beginning of school remarks were followed by the keynote address given by motivational speaker Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, a Hardin-Simmons University graduate who broke barriers and set records in the military where she became the highest-ranking Hispanic woman in the Combat Support Field of the U.S. Army.